Anaheim Ducks take advantage of Calgary Flames' mistakes for Game 1 win

By Ivan Carter, The Sports Xchange
Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson makes a save. File photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson makes a save. File photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Everything was going smoothly for the Calgary Flames in a building that previously caused them so much torment in recent seasons.

Then a poorly executed line change allowed the Anaheim Ducks to seize momentum and ultimately hold on for a 3-2 victory on Thursday at Honda Center in Game 1 of a first-round Western Conference playoff series.


With the Flames holding a 2-1 lead and less than seven minutes remaining in the second period, all five Calgary skaters headed for the visitors' bench. That allowed the Ducks to take advantage of a rare three-on-zero break.

Ryan Getzlaf gathered a stretch pass from Kevin Bieksa and snapped a shot that bounced off the glove of goaltender Brian Elliott. Rickard Rakell was there to gather the rebound and knock it home for the game-tying goal at 13:53.


"Getzy and the guys did a great job," Ducks winger Ryan Kesler said. "That was the turning point right there."

Anaheim seized control when Jakob Silfverberg took a feed from Patrick Eaves and scored a power play-goal at 17:47 of the middle period. That turned out to be the game-winner, but it was the earlier mistake on the line change that led to Calgary's NHL-record 28th consecutive loss at Honda Center.

"That was a big game-changer," Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. "I think there was twice in the game where we stopped playing for a second, thinking it was icing, then hesitated coming to the bench, and it cost us. That's something we talked about -- line changes -- at length over the last couple of days because those details are important."

The Ducks got some sharp goaltending from John Gibson (30 saves) to hold off the Flames the rest of the way. Gibson and the Ducks' penalty-killing unit were at their best late in the game when they helped kill off a five-on-three Calgary advantage.


"A couple of grade-A scoring chances there," Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau said. "Gibson made some big saves in the final couple seconds."

The Ducks went 2-for-7 on the power against a Calgary team that led the NHL in penalties during the regular season.

Getzlaf opened scoring with a power-play goal just 52 seconds into the game. Calgary bounced back with a power-play goal by Sean Monahan at 8:43 of the first period, and the Flames got an even-strength tally by Sam Bennett at 9:46 of the second to take a 2-1 lead.

The Ducks also helped their own cause by winning 49 of 78 faceoffs, including several in their own zone or on the penalty kill. Calgary, which finished tied for 10th in the NHL on the power play during the regular season, converted 1 of 5 man-advantage chances in Game 1.

Despite the win and the long home winning streak over the Flames, the Ducks did not sound like an overconfident team after the game.

"We're gonna have to earn everything," said Getzlaf, who was on the ice to help kill off the late penalty. "That's a great hockey team over there. We're gonna have to continue to get better in certain areas, but it's great to find a way to win tonight."


Anaheim finished with a 41-32 edge in shots on goal, as Elliott finished with 38 saves.

Defensemen Shea Theodore, who spent the season going back and forth between Anaheim and the team's American Hockey League affiliate in San Diego, recorded his first two NHL playoff assists.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Saturday night at Honda Center.

NOTES: With his first-period goal, Ducks C Ryan Getzlaf moved into third place on the team's all-time playoff goal-scoring list with 30. He trails Teemu Selanne (35) and a current teammate, RW Corey Perry (35). ... The series marks the third playoff meeting between the teams. The Ducks won in six games in the 2006 Western Conference quarterfinals and won in five games in the 2015 second-round. ... The most significant health issue for either team entering the series involved Ducks D Cam Fowler, who sustained a knee injury when the teams met on April 4 and is expected to be out between two and six weeks. Fowler was kneed by Flames D Mark Giordano, causing some bad blood between the teams, adding some spice to the playoff matchup. ... Flames G Brian Elliott dropped to 1-8-3 in his career against the Ducks.


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